Monday, June 18, 2007

Please turn in your Bibles to...

While affirming together that "all Scripture is inspired by God...," are there particular books or genres (types of writing) of Scripture that you think are particularly timely and pertinent for us in this time of rapid, discontinuous change, missional challenge and apostolic opportunity?

This question is not implying that some parts of Scripture are "better" than others, nor is it merely asking for our "favorite" parts. Instead, as we seek to follow Jesus in a complex and confusing situation, which parts of God's Word are especially bread for this journey? And how are they bread?

Please note the small tweak to our ground rules in the first comment on this post.


Brian Emmet said...

Could we slow down just a bit in our responding to one another, so that we avoid situations in which one of us writes a comment to which no one responds? I do not want us to fall into a merely perfunctory, "Nice comment, Joe," or "Totally with you there, Roger." At the same time, several of us have mentioned, and perhaps more of us have felt, the "sting" of feeling our comment was overlooked or passed by.

Let's try to keep the sense of sitting around a table together, talking, thinking, praying together--hang onto the personal and relational nature of what we're doing, while not losing the joy of lighting off all our theological firecrackers!

josenmiami said...

good suggestions Brian.

Over the last four years I have drank deeply from the gospels, particularly from the gospel of John. By-the-way, Brian, I really enjoyed Peterson's discussion of the gospel of John in the third chapter of "Ten Thousand Places."

I suspect it is about time for me to renew my study of the epistles, particularly those written by Paul. Of course, I always enjoy the Psalms and Proverbs...over the last year Job and the Song of Solomon have become richer for me.

Was this what you had in mind for this post Brian?

Jeremiah said...

well, it is lunch again and it looks like no one else has posted so here goes...

One of the disciplines I have been under in the past has been to read through either the N.T., the O.T. or the entire thing through in a relatively short period of time for a number of times in a row. What this has fostered in me (at least when I get into discussions with others) is a sense that not enough people really grasp the over arching themes of the scriptures. Sometimes I wonder if people read more theology and devotional books than they do their Bibles. I get the sense that the wells aren't always as pure as they could/should be.

Something GOD said to me once, when I was fairly excited about visiting a man who has a very strong Prophetic gifting, was that He wanted me to seek out HIM more than His man.

I think very often we content ourselves with a "priest" of some sort when we have unfettered access to the very throne of heaven. This priest might be a devotional or an author etc.

I am also aware of the admonishons to run it all by your spiritual authority Gal 6:6 and that we hear GOD through A) His written word, B) His spoken word and C) the community of Saints (eph 3.)

I am NOT saying it should just be "me and Jesus" what I am saying is I think there should be more attention paid to the entire body of scriptures, not a microcosmic portion.

As history progresses and the Bride is nearing completion, different pieces are being added AND it is imperative that ground gained is not lost! To be able to do so requires a more thorough knowledge of both History and the Scriptures than has ever been required of another generation.

Jeremiah said...

oops double post Jose!

Brian Emmet said...

Joseph, can you say a bit more about one of the parts of Scripture you mentioned? In what ways are the Gospels especially pertinent in our current context? How do the Psalms help us lead lives of faithfulness? I'm not asking for a sermon, or even a Bible study, just wanting to delve deeper into the Why and How of the ways in which these books nourish our souls and help us build the right kinds of christian communities.

Jeremiah, I appreciate the reminder and encouragement to stay in touch with the whole sweep of Scripture. Could you sa a bit that would brng that sweep into our current context? And could you focus in on particular sections of Scripture?

And hold on to those comments about "priest"--I don't want to chase them just now, but would like to get back to them!

josenmiami said...

The book of John: Jesus demonstrates the restful attitude of "waiting" on the initiative of the Father. He almost floats along on the current of the Spirit...always in tune with what the father is doing. This has been very helpful for me through a difficult but exciting time. Of course, John shows Jesus being quite oriented toward both unconnected religious leaders (Nicodemos) and marginal, oppressed sinners (the woman at the well).

I have not been in the Psalms as much...but I have come to appreciate "in-your-face" prayers of vexation, frustration and even anger toward God. God delights in our honesty with him, even when we are in his face, expressing our doubts and frustration. It always ends up "right" in the end.

Jeremiah: it has been quite a while since I have read the whole thing,... I probably have not even read the whole Old Testament for 15 or more years. My bad.

Jeremiah said...


I wasn't intending that as condemnation against you or any one person, just a general observation of Christendom.


one of the general themes I've noticed, and I know I mentioned it somewhere else, but I forget where, is the theme of GOD being The All Consuming Fire. The first time we see Christ, He is coming to bring fire onto the earth (i.e. Sodom & Gomorrah). All through the Psalms and the Prophets that is how He is presented. He reveals Himself to Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego as the Master of Flames. I purchased this worship CD and they say on the back that their goal is to bring people into the "manifest presence of GOD" But the whole CD is about me getting a blessing. I don't mean to be critical, but what if the Manifest presence of GOD was in the middle of the furnace? Would they want to go there? I think there are more scriptures in the NT regarding suffering than on Blessings (41 vs 14) and in the OT where it talks about Blessing it almost always links it to obedience. Sorry for the distraction, I'm a little tired and need bed. Onto the rest... John the Baptist presents Him as this figure with a pitch fork, wreathed in flame, bringing a refiners fire. Finally, in Revelation, here he is again, feet burning, eyes of coals, and Hair radiantly on fire. I'm too tired to bring up every instance, but this is a cursory over view and it seems to me that this is the most prominant way He is revealed.

Even so He still does not put out a smouldering wick or break a bruised reed! :)

I'm not real sure why all the pictures I've ever seen painted show Him looking like such a sissy. I guess it just really torques me off when I find out that something which is so common is such a complete and total lie! I've never liked being lied to and when it is something so important like the very essence of who Jesus is, that makes it so much worse. Well, I'll quit rambling and see what you guys say by lunch tomorrow.

John M. said...

Jeremiah's point about having the big picture in mind is important. Context is huge, as we know, but sometimes we still tend to proof-text or "passage-text". My wife and I are doing a read through the Bible in one year program from Navigators. It is really refreshing. Like Joseph, I haven't read straight through in years -- I hate to admit how many, but it's a lot more than Joseph's 15.

I won't double post, but I have a couple comments about the blog.

1. I feel a little cheated that we abruptly jumped threads when we were having what, to me, was an important discussion about War and Peace, spiritual warfare, Satan's fall from heaven etc. I for one was looking forward to continuing and hearing comments from others, responding to what some of us had put up.

2. Are we going to ignore Patrick's and John the Musician's suggestions that we go to a more fluid format? What I was hearing behind their gentle comments was that this blog is too limiting and linear to hold their interest, or to give them the ability to express their ideas fully. I would dare say that they are speaking for some of the other "young guys". I know for us older guys this format may be challenging, but in reality, in spite of the fact that the conversation takes a lot of twists and turns, it is still happening in a linear format. The format being suggested would allow Brian to start this thread while some of us continued the other thread I mentioned above, while others could start additional threads. The cool thing about it is that we could maintain the "round table" idea while some of us were involved in side conversations simultaneously-- possible because we're in cyber space and not geographical space. If you look at our posting history, there are usually only between two and four people "around the table" at the same time anyway, with various guys jumping in and out with only single comments. The wisdom in the other format (which btw I have not actually done, but am willing to try) is that it could involve more participants.

John M. said...

Jeremiah - I didn't intentionally skip over your last post, I just didn't see it until I published mine. Powerful stuff you're saying about the "fire Jesus"!

steve H said...

The most foundational reading of Scripture for me was in the 1970s, when I regularly sought to read 5 chapters of Psalms, 1 chapter of Proverbs, 5 chapters elsewhere in the Old Testament, and 5 chapters in the New Testament -- in sequence daily. I didn't make the goal every day, but I did read Psalms and Proverbs monthly, the NT in about 2 1/2 months, and the OT in 7-9 months for several years. Reading through the Bible a number of times this way gave me a comprehensive overview as you mentioned, Jeremiah. And it was incredible how many times the same theme and often the same ideas or a "quotation" came up in the same day. I had a "whole Bible"! That combined with a simultaneous effort to learn to summarize each book chapter by chapter caused some of my friends to call me "a walking concordance."

Out of this discipline Psalms became my prayer book. In those times when I am spiritually dry and the Bible reads like a boring newspaper, I can read aloud or sing (chant if you want to call it that) the Psalms; the Psalmists seem to express what needs to be said -- both toward God and toward my own arid spirit and soul.

Also in my personal journey, 2 Corinthians has long been a most meaningful letter to me because in this letter I can see Paul's heart and struggles as in none other of his writings. The mighty apostle was a man who at times "despaired of life"! He was a man who found that God worked most powerfully through him (Paul) for the benefit of others precisely when he was "weak" and "dying inside"! I tell you, I've needed that insight time and again.

And I love 1 Peter because it carries a similar message.

There are other books that are morefoundational to my theological understanding, but Psalms, 2 Corinthians, and 1 Peter have sustained me and provided me with tools to endure.

steve H said...

I hope you all don't mind if I add a personal anecdote concerning Scripture reading / study that may serve you younger men a bit.

After hearing a recommendation by Bill Gothard at his basic seminar back in 1973, Jay, a co-worker, and I each set out to memorize and to meditate on a book of the Bible. He chose 1 John and I chose 1 Peter.

At the same time, Jay was doing a word by word study of 1 Peter in the orginal Greek.

Over the next months, he gained great insight into 1 John and found himself "living" from it and teaching from it often. I on the other hand gained great insight into 1 Peter and did much of my "living" and teaching from that book.

Jay's observation was that I had gained far more insight into 1 Peter by memorizing and meditating on it, then he had gained by his more academic approach to it with the Greek text.

I am not in anyway suggesting that studying the Greek is not valuable; it is! However, I am suggesting that an acamdemic study is not the way to get the most FOOD from God's word.

In fact, the Eastern Orthodox "define" a theologian, not 1st as a scholar, but 1st as one who prays. Meditation on God's word is so important because it is a means of prayer, that is, a means of communion. As Timothy "Kallistos" Ware wrote " is not logical certainty but a personal relationship.... Faith, then signifies a personal relationship with God; a relationship as yet incomplete and faltering, yet none the less real. It is to know God not as a theory or an abstract principle, but as a Person. To know a person is far more than to know facts about that person. To know a person is essentially to love him or her; there can be no true awareness of other persons without mutual love."

Brian Emmet said...

John, thannks for pointing this out. I had felt the conversation starting to narrow, but perhaps that's what always happens: the 3 or 4 or 5 who are most interested in a topic keep at it, others who are less interested head back to the bar for a refill. Keep in mind that, just because I started a new thread, there's no obstacle to staying on the previous post and continuing that conversation there.

I have asked for people's inputs on which kind of site they prefer, and have asked thhe question again over at the googlegroups site.

Brian Emmet said...

Jeremiah: "fire" is a powerful image, but it isn't a story. What do you see as the storyline behind the fire imagery attaching to God?

With others of us, I also have found the Psalms a daily discipline. I've followed the 5-a-day format for the past many years, and much of my reading has been in books on the Pss. Lament is the most prevalent form of the prayer we find in the Pss... and lament certianly has not been a regular or prominent feature of Western Christianity! Any thoughts on how lament can be a source of nourishment, strenghth and direction for us as we negotiate in and with a postmodern world?

Jeremiah said...

John M.

I was disappointed we left your topic too, I had some responses ready. If you copy your last posts over to the other website I'll respond there.

Steve H. & Brian,

I too have been under the regular habit of reading 5 psalms & 1 proverb since I was small, I suppose I always thought of that as the bare minimum. (still I am chagrined to admit I sometimes don't even meet this little bit) As it was taught to me, Psalms shows us how to relate to GOD, Proverbs shows us how to relate to Man.

The All Consuming Fire of GOD

First of all it is an image, but it is much more than an image. Literal fire fell from heaven on S & G with Abraham, on Mt. Sinai for Moses, on Mt. Moriah for David and Solomon, On Mt. Carmel for Elijah and on an unknown Mt. twice on a total of 102 of Jezebel's soldiers, and it was certainly a literal fire that Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego met with Jesus within in front of King Neb. (he lost some of his elite soldiers to that fire). Finally, when Peter interprets all of the prophetic "images" of the Day of the Lord as promises that the elements will be consumed with Fire, well that pretty well sums that up as a literal fire as well. Interestingly (as a neat sidebar) the earth has already undergone one baptism in literal water, a baptism in literal fire is coming. The Key to this fire is 1) The Glory of GOD and 2) Refinement. and these are both very much intertwined. As GOD is preparing "A Bride w/o spot or blemish" She has to be refined. When she is she will be a broken clay vessel that carries the Glory of GOD. Interestingly, clay products, (Porceline, ceramic etc.) are the only things that can hold extreme heat without disintegrating. That is what crucibles are made of. I think GOD wants us to be crucibles in which is refined the Word of the Lord. Our brokenness is where the Glory of GOD leaks out so that the world sees Jesus. Brian, GOD is refining the Bride and I truly believe this is the direction the Church is heading in. We are going to see persecution, in this country, within my lifetime, maybe within your all's lifetime, I don't know. Time is always the toughest thing to figure out prophetically.

Reading prayerfully

Steve, I've had similar experiences to the one you discussed regarding you and your buddy reading Peter. I have very rarely read the Bible in the original languages, but most often I've read in a very meditative way very repetitively and then submitted new insights to my spiritual authority in accordance w/ Gal 6:6. (not to say the greek & heb. are bad)

Robert said...

To say that I enjoy it all feels a bit like a cop out. The weekly reflections upon lectionary readings involving Old Testament readings...including the Psalms...and the New Testament, involving the Gospels and Epistles, presents an integrated approach to understanding how we interpret scripture in a given context. The goal of hermeneutics is to understand the message given in a given historical context and bring that forward into the present setting. We have the genres of historical narrative, poetry and prophecy. Each has its own language and style.

Right now I am connecting with the idea of hearts, minds and Holy Spirit. It's an Acts model of how God moves upon human frailty to effect the Kingdom of God on earth. My last count is 54 references to the Holy Spirit working through people like you and me to extend the Kingdom...what a wonder. Gen. 1, Joel 2, Act is all so good. Jesus said in John 16 that the Counselor would take the things that belong to Him and make them known to us...maybe that is my focus for the moment...maybe that is my answer to the orginal post.

josenmiami said...

correct me if I am wrong, Robert, but the premodern idea is that one most be spiritually formed or shaped by those who are mature in order to properly appreciate and interpret the scriptures, yes?

Reading a lectionary or book of common prayer at least in part fulfills that need of spiritual formation from the 'fathers.' It would move the reader beyond the individualistic cut and paste and subjective interpretation of scripture.

steve H said...

Robert, I have used Reformed lectionary readings in our church for special seasons such as Advent and Lent. For one period I used the Sunday readings for several months, usually preaching from the readings. It was meaningful to me and to a few of our people.

I also used the Orthodox daily lectionary readings for several years and often found it to have the same benefit that reading daily reading from the Psalms, Proverbs, OT, and NT had. However, at times the connection of the Old Testament readings in particular did seem somewhat tenuous -- but not always by any means.

Although, it may be a more appropriate theme for another thread, it could be valuable for you to explain more clearly the "links" between certain readings.

It also could be helpful to some of us, if you were to explain the way the church has used the readings to "journey" through the year. Perhaps that would even develop into a blog itself (like that of Billy Long). It might not be too hard to do if you were to make a weekly entry of each Sundays readings along with some of the exposition you do for the church.

Who knows -- you might well end up bringing some of us along into something you have found to be valuable.

Brian Emmet said...

I'll be offline for a few days, heading off into the NH woods with my mistress (who is also Kathy my wife!), so we'll probably be at comment #88 when I get back to you.

While we're on the lectionary subtheme, we have had some really good times during seasons like Advent and Lent/Easter/Pentecost by creating our own lectionary (which we call "Common Readings"). Our folks say they really enjoy and benefit from reading the same passages together each day. Because I pull the readings together around a common major theme, it's a bit easier for people to "get" the connections among the various readings... but it doesn't always work seamlessly, believe me!

John M. said...

This is going back a bit. Brian, thanks for responding to my questions about the blog.
Jeremiah - I will post on the other site. I haven't gotten it done because we have company and I'm having trouble keeping up.

josenmiami said...

wow! excellent suggestion Steve! I agree.

John, I was thinking the same thing. Why not continue the previous discussion in a more non-linear fashion in the other format with whoever is interested.

Speaking of other blogs--I hope you guys will take a peek at a HILARIOUS photo of Deb and me on my humor blog:

hey guys...I am off to Copacabana with the love of my life for six weeks of cross-cultural "fun in the sun" ... there is a God in heaven!

Jeremiah said...


I might be out of action for a little bit. There is some trouble going on here, stuff I'm not at liberty to discuss right now, but in all honesty, I just don't have the heart for discussion. I need to rest and pray and seek out GOD and when things get settled (either in me or the situation, or both) I'll be back. I'll probably keep reading as it sure beats the heck out of CNN during lunches. If you think about us please pray the GOD's Grace will rest on all we touch.

Jose I started reading that paper you've been talking about and I have some thoughts on it (imagine that). I'll share them when I finish reading and holding it before the Lord.

josenmiami said...

cool beans. I am posting it a little bit at at time over at my other blog.

Ok, here is a scripture for you Jeremiah as you rest and reflect.

1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

3"You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

4"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

You will be in our prayers Jeremiah.

here is one more that has been meaningful to me.

28-30"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

John M. said...

Ahhh..."the unforced rythms of grace"... I love the way Peterson puts it. Joseph, you gave me that passage from the Message several years ago. It refreshes and refocuses me regularly.

Jeremiah - May the Lord give you grace, peace, strength and wisdom in the midst of the storm. Hope you're back soon.

Brain - Have an awesome time in the woods with your bride!

Joseph - Have an awesome time in Brazil with your bride!

The rest of us will carry on best as we can.

Steve - How is your recovery coming?

Robert said...

July 4 and many and friends...things that make life blessed. blessed on your journey south. Building memories and legacy...valuable moments. The Kingdom is extending...

John the Musician said...

Hey guys.

Steve Humble and John Meadows, I'd like to let you know that I've really appreciated all of your insights and wisdom. Although I haven't been writing much lately, I've been reading along as best as I can and it's been good.

Dad, I started crying as I read those verses, and realized suddenly why I am where I am right now. This is the end of my rope. I knew it sense I got to Ohio, I remember thinking several times, I'm gonna make it or break right now. I've been spiritually dry and depressed for the last month, constantly struggling with small things, and almost at a place of distrust in God. I've contemplated suicide on several occasions (not that I have the balls to do it) it simply seems too much, and not worth it. On the flip side, when I led worship for my home church, everybody felt an annointing and God's presence. I didn't feel anything at all, and yet I was glad that others were blessed, and I realized that this is what it's all about. This time (the breaking point) is where either we put our faith in God or we die. It's ALL good.

(switching notes to a less emotional theme)

As far as Psalms, I think I've never liked it because David is about as dramatic as I am. John however, is not only poetic, but also very real, which I think fits in well with postmodern culture. I think some of the most helpful scripture for us in trying to understand how we should approach postmodern society is the epistles. Reading about Paul's approach in dealing with different cultures is probably the scripture that will help us understand how to approach this current culter.

However, I think that ultimately the scripture does not hold the key to reaching the postmodern world. The key is Jesus, and following where he leads. How do you think Paul was so effective? He was constantly in submission and obedience to Christ, and followed where the Holy Spirit led him. Ultimately I think we need to look directly to Christ for direction, and though the scripture is God's Word, why not go directly to God with our questions?

Jeremiah said...

Hey guys thanks for all the kind things. I wish it were something as simple as being burned out... but everybody has their particular giant, and to them, well, its a giant!

Here is something I wrote the other day I want to share. Its pretty off topic, but so am I right now.

Praise be to GOD!
HE has decreed Life for me and my family!
Who is like HIM!?!
Who has wisdom, foresight and understanding to match!?!?!


The enemy is before me and I have no strength.
Traps entangle me, snares waylay me, evil pursues me, sin overwhelms me.

And I cry out for mercy, I yearn for release. My soul fades with fear.

But shining like the sun, deliverance is waiting. Mercy meets my failures and Grace lifts my head.

I'm crowned with LIFE,
enthroned with CHRIST,
covered in Blood,
filled with fire,
held with love,
drowned in joy,
fearless in life,
passed through death,
humbled by Grace,
exalted in glory,
grateful for JESUS,
upheld by angels,
beset by demons,
shielded by Faith,
defined by WORD,
refined by FLAME,


josenmiami said...

awesome poem, Jeremiah. You will be in our prayers as you slay your giants.

And John, about your giants. Since Brian wanted us to focus on scripture in this thread, here goes (by-the-way, I emailed you and suggested you give Dr. Lopez a call).

About the scripture: You are right that Jesus is our priority...the living Word. But scripture is one of our primary points of access to him.

Need your soul restored? Need some wisdom?
PSA 19:7 The law (Torah) of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

The Bible also has a LOT to say about making choices in how we think:

PSA 103:1 (A Psalm of David.) Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
PSA 103:2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits.

David was speaking to his own soul, commanding his soul to bless the Lord, and to think about all of the benefits of his holy name.

Here is another powerful scripture about our power of choice:

DEU 30:19 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants."

You were created with a spiritual destiny. You have a purpose: (The Elf Queen to Frodo: "This quest is yours...if you don't do it, no one will". God already has a destiny for yoru descendants as referenced in the above passage. So CHOOSE LIFE!

...and finally, choose what you allow yourself to think about:

PHI 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
PHI 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
PHI 4:9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.

We will be praying for you (and for Jeremiah) while we are in Brazil.

John M. said...

John - Thanks for your kind comments. I can totally relate to feeling depressed, burned out, unworthy, etc., and leading worship in that state and seeing God's anointing and presence demonstrated. God is amazing isn't He? He uses our leaky, cracked and sometimes broken clay vessels in spite of our sins and flaws. All we have to do is avail ourselves to Him and do what He gifted and created us to do. God made you an artist and a musician. Every gift and calling has it's downside, it's underbelly, it's weaknesses that need to be shored up by those who are strong where we are weak. But as you learn to accept who God made you and go with that, He will use you and bear incredible fruit through who you are and how He created you. Trust me on this! :)
Bless you as you continue on your path of discovery. The doorway to the Kingdom is narrow, but once we go through it, the Kingdom opens into a wide expanse that is incredibly broad and diverse; and that offers room for us to be who God made us. God has written you, John Holbrook, into His big story.

Awesome poem Jeremiah! I hear the Psalmist in you.

steve H said...

John the musician -- Thank you for being man enough to share your struggle. Although I have never considered suicide, I strongly wished that the Lord would take me out numerous times after my son died. And there have certainly been times when I wanted to commit "spiritual suicide" in order to get relief from pressure and from drugery as well. David certainly had similar thoughts, and Elijah as well and Jonah too. Jesus prayed with loud cries and tears to be delivered from the cup he had to drink, and Paul was so low as to despair of life itself --felt the sentence of death, as he put it. So you are not alone!

You have friends who are for you and who believe in you -- more than you believe in yourself. And you have a strong deliverer who delights to reveal Himself and to meet us in the darkest places! And he will. It is far more important in being able to serve others, to have God meet you in the lowest times, then to have the high experiences -- even though the high experiences are more pleasurable at least in the short run.

John the Musician said...

Thank you guys for your soothing and wise words. My dad called me today worried about me and for good reason, but I assured him, as I would like to assure you all, that my intention wasn't to point out the thoughts about suicide, but rather to point out what God is doing in my life. I didn't even really understand it when I wrote it on the blog yesterday, but when my dad called me today it suddenly became clear. I want to thank you all for the prayers you sent my way, I desperately need them durring this period of my life.

I guess what I was truly trying to get at yesterday, was that though my soul is weak and desires oblivion, my spirit and faith are ever expanding. I've been asking God for discipline ever since I was sixteen, and He has truly delivered me into the spiritual elite boot camp. It's a desperate time, I would compare where I'm at as somewhere similar to, "about to be thrown in the fire," and God is shoring up my faith for the moment I'm tossed in so that I can call on Him. Not only has God put me in a place where I am now entering into adulthood and responsibility in a way I never have before (financially, socially, decision-making, job-wise), but he also has me working the most difficult job I've ever worked in my life. Truly though, I am joyfull, and I think it has a whole lot to do with all of your prayers (wink). Two or three weeks now when I've been asked if I needed prayer for anything in my life, I would say no. Possibly because I felt like I needed to do it on my own, or maybe because I lacked faith in God, but God knew I needed prayer, and set me up to spill the beans here on the blog.

Once again I thank you all so much for your prayers and love.

Jeremiah, I'm with you man, I love you and will be praying for you.


steve H said...

Jeremiah, I'm with you, man! Fight on in the Spirit.

The old saw is true, "We either stand together or we fall apart."

John M. said...

Big John - I'm glad you "spilled the beans". You're our brother and we are standing with you and praying for you.

Regarding my friend, he actually stays fresh and full of the Lord -- at least on the level I know him. For him it's not intense and overbearing, it's just a mindset. He views each person he meets as a potential disciple and each conversation as the beginning or continuation of discipleship to Jesus in that person's life. His idea is that since he is a disciple of Jesus, every person he contacts should be drawn closer to being a disciple of Jesus whether it's a deep or a casual conversation. I suppose it could also work the opposite way. If someone is determined not to follow Jesus, the contact with my friend could solidify that decision.

John M. said...

Oops! I was just at the other site. After I posted the response about my friend, I realized that I was responding to what you had written there. My bad. For anyone else reading, you can follow the thread under "War and Peace" at the other site to know the context.

josenmiami said...

hi guys...

I go to Brazil and you guys stop talking? Whats up with that?

hey, I have posted some cool photos of Rio and uploaded some updates. We have the most beautiful room we could imagine with a sitting area and an awesome picture window overlooking Copacabana beach. Debbie actually cried for thankfullness.

here is the link:

John the Musician said...

I think this is roughly inside the parameters of the conversation.

For me it seems, the more I read the new testament, the more I understand the old. It seems like as I come to accept and adopt the attitudes and commands of the new testament, it makes more sense out of the old, and also perhaps just coming to know God better has brought to a place of understanding the old testament better.

John M. said...

Hey Joseph - I was over at "Friends..." Vicki and I were enjoying the photos and rejoicing in God' goodness to you and Debbie! Enjoy!

Big John - That's a good observation. There's just one story and it is told in the Old and New testaments. Much of the N.T. assumes that the readers know the O.T. and therefore the authors don't bother to set a context. So, when we approach the NT as if it was created in a vacuum, we miss many important things. There is an old saying, "The NT is in the Old concealed, and the OT is in the new revealed." It definitely works both ways: knowing the Old will help one understand the New and reading and studying the New will shed much light on the Old. Pretty awesome, huh?

Brian Emmet said...

Good points! The work of N.T. Wright has been helpful to me here. He stresses, for example, that Jesus' conflict with the Pharisees was not about "how to go to heaven." It was "how to be Israel, what does it mean to be God's covenant people in this particular time and place?" As we become more familiar with the OT, Jesus words and actions become even more astonishing: he gathers to/around himself all that it means to "be Israel", which is why the conflict was so sharp and deadly--he was hitting at the core of their identity, calling it into question, offering them another way (the Way) to be Israel. Or the healing of the paralyzed man lowered through the roof. The Pharisees' took offense at Jesus' pronouncement of forgiveness--"Who can forgive sins but God alone?" This was not really an argument about whether or not Jesus was somehow divine (although that is included); it was that forgiveness from God was available, but it was administered through the Temple. Jesus' bypassing of the Temple, and his claim that what used to come through the Temple now was available through him, was what got him into trouble.

Yup, it's one book, one story, and it all is ours, and we must make it all our own! "May it be unto us according to your word!"

Jeremiah said...

All right, I'm back.

John M. I think you wrote that saying down backwards.

The OT is the New concealed, the NT is the Old revealed.


I knew when you said you were going off to wherever you would still be writing...

Seems like the the discussion on this topic has pretty well ground out, I was thinking about this website yesterday and I thought of how on this website and the other one, one of the things we are doing is sharpening our theology and it dawned on me that the devil has better theology than any one of us. That was a little humbling and so I started really pondering what the difference is and then it dawned on me he completely lacks "The Fear of The Lord" So I started praying that GOD would impart to me The Fear of The Lord in equal or greater measure than how much theology I ever have. Pretty neat stuff, huh? This is such a better seminary than any real one, I bet they don't teach that stuff in a seminary! I'm so grateful for you guys. Thank you very much for your prayers over the last few days. They were much needed, much appreciated, and effective. I suppose according to Proverbs that also means you haven't "turned a deaf ear to the law"


Thanks again!!!

jastclark said...

in reading over this discussion i have seen a couple of people mention that at times or now they make a discipline of reading sections of NT and OT in order instead of playing Bible roullette. I believe that one of the most meaningful themes of the scriptures is that from Genesis to Revelation God is unchanging. When i began consistently reading sections of scripture out of both testaments together, the Alpha and Omega took on a new level of meaning to me. And the fact that you can read the same scripture Jesus read is frankly amazing! Father is so faithful that He has sustained the same material His Son had for us to use and discuss over the internet when Jesus used it in a time of no electricity.

John M. said...

Glad you're back Jeremiah! Thanks for the observation on the quote. I think we're both saying the same thing. You just said it more concisely than I did. Anyway, no big deal.

Important observations about theology, experience and the fear of the Lord.

josenmiami said...

hi jastclark, welcome to the conversation!

Since we arrived in Rio, I have been reading my Portuguese Bible in the Psalms. I plan to try to read through the epistles of Paul in addition to the Psalms.

sorry I cannot take the time to respond to everyone´s comments above...suffice it to say, that ¨its all good.¨

jeremiah...I liked what you said about the fear of the Lord. I would add also, agape love. knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

Brian Emmet said...

Let's give the devil his due, but no more! As Steve Hpointed out, the first duty or quality of a true theologian is prayer, an activity the devil does not engage in and which therefore disquaifies him as a theologian! He is however better at word chopping and logic chopping than we are, which is why prayer and the fear of the Lord are essential, foundational qualities.

I agree that this topic is petering out, although it is puzzling to me that we're having a hard time getting traction with Scripture... anyway, I mean no criticism; it could just be the way the topic was phrased, or the fact that several guys have fallen silent and the rest of us have exhausted our fund of wisdom and knowledge.

Any action in the bullpen, or do you want me to keep lobbing these canteloupes for us?

josenmiami said...

I have been meditating for several days on Psalm 115:1 ^not unto us, not unto us, but unto thee o God give the glory....

it helps me lower my narcisism to acceptable levels.


John the Musician said...

Hey Jastclark, good to hear a new voice. I'm also astounded at the consitancy of the Lord and how reliable he is. It's still a bit hard for me to adjust my view of Him sometimes, as my view of Him is largely dependant of my view of my biological and spiritual fathers, and no matter how amazing and wonderful they have been, they aren't exactly God. I think that's a big part of why scripture is so important in our lives, it gives us in depth understanding of who God is and the knowledge that He never changes in His love for us.

Jeremiah said...




I think one of the problems we've had is we haven't treated the devil as a military adversary. We are so worried about "being afraid" that in many ways we go overboard and underestimate him. That is the worst military mistake anyone can make. Custer comes to mind. I'm not afraid of him. Sure, a demonic presence raises the hackles and blood pressure more than most things, but I focus my fear on the Lord. Regardless, he has actually stood on the Holy Mountain, passed within in the Unknown Creatures and was there when our Lord died. To say his theology isn't better than ours is a gross mistake. It isn't True Theology and he isn't a True Theologian, he specializes in false theology. But it is still a more complete "Knowledge of God" than you or I can hope to achieve for quite a few thousand more years. Perhaps I should have defined better Theology (hold your breath Joseph, this is going to be etymologically sound, "old", and an absolute definition)

Theos=God + ology=knowledge

For "God Knowledge" or the Knowledge of GOD.

So now we have some controversy again, fire away!

Brian Emmet said...

Hmmm... according to Job, Satan is a servant, albeit unwilling, of the LORD. As to whether Satan is a better theologian than we are: (a) that wouldn't be very hard! and (b)since God is Love, Satan cannot know God, despite whatever experiences he may have had in God's Presence. This makes the simplest saint, who simply knows that he is loved by God with a love than never fails, never changes and never comes to an end light years ahead of the devil as a theologian.

I get the sense from the Gospels that Jesus related to the devil as more of a annoyance than anythnig else. It's not Custer vs Sitting Bull; it's Hitler on June 7, 1944: the fatal blow has landed, and while there is carnage ahead, the Nazi jig is up.

josenmiami said...

I feel like the little guy in "Oh brother where art thou?" when the other two were arguing, and he said "Im with you guys!"

you both have excellent points. I agree with Jeremiah that we are not to fear the adversary, but fear God only: we also ought not to disrespect him a la Jude, but say "the Lord rebuke you"

I also agree with Brian...the highest theology is faith working through love (Bob´s agape road) and the adversary does not understand that, so a simple saint who loves is in that sense already way ahead of his santanic majesty.

I like the theme from Moulin rouge, "The greatest thing you will ever learn is to love and be loved."

I put some more photos of the students we are hanging with on my family blog. Sharp young kids from all over the united states who are studying Portuguese and learning about Brazil.

Sean, a couple of them are from Vanderbilt.


jastclark said...

I think you have to be very careful in your quote of Moulin Rouge, while i infer that you are meaning it as the words are, as opposed to the context of the movie, all "love" in the movie was based on some level of phsysicality. Which has a life span just as we do.
The only reason i mention this is that I am coming to believe that there is a much higher depth to love than i have previosuly thought. In our love for the father we must strive to transcend any physical attributes.
I believe as John mentions in his post about his physical fathers that is something we miss about Father God. His love transcends all temporal bindings and unfortunately to try and wrap that concept into a temporal mind is our struggle. I am not trying to belittle what you are saying I am just calling us above the bohemian idea of love is all flowers and happiness, when I believe that God's love for us is a violent aggressive love that will endlessly pursue and challenge us to come up to Him.

John the Musician said...

Good thoughts Jastclark, I would say that you're quite right, and yet at the same time that is probably one of the very many things we will never fully grasp until we are able to be in God's presence fully. I believe Jose meant it at face value. =O) Course who doesn't like a little physical lovin'? =OP

Anywho, I agree with you, but like I said, that is basically what we come down to in every aspect of God... We just can't comprehend the magnitude. However, it is kinda fun to talk 'bout it. =O)

On the other site me and Jeremiah have been talking some about Hell and what it entails, and whether or not it even exists! Well we both pretty much agree that it does, however, my point is continually that I simply can't see God as anything but the lover of our souls who would move mountains to be with us and yet politely knock on our doors till we open up. I think in some way Hell is essentially the same. I think God puts those who choose to reject Him into a place where he isn't. Which really if you think about it is about the nicest thing you can do for a person like that. Of course the place would still be Hell because there is no God and as such it would be a pretty horrible place. Anyways I'm not sure why I'm talking about all this besides that God is so loving, and I haven't truly seen any other side to who He is. It seems like His motivation is always love.

josenmiami said...

thanks Jastclark, I receive the caution.

I am probably become a little too ´postmodern´in the sense that I enjoy finding quotes, metaphors and illustrations of spiritual truth in pop culture.

On the other hand, I believe that whatever is good and true about love, heroism and courage and other such themes are most always some kind of dim reflection of God and his attributes. I agree with you that God´s love is far higher (or deeper) than any human love, especially physical, but at the same time, human love is a reflection of divine love and calls us God-ward. Eph. 5 refers to the mystery of Christ and the church which is reflected between man and wife.

It seems to me recently that my ears (and as far as movies, maybe eyes?) have been opened to hear the heart-cry of secular people and secular culture to know God and to experience his love. There are all kinds of hints, reflections, metaphors, and divine poetry that comes through pop songs and movies, obviously mixed with humanity and sin.

In Moulin Rouge, for example, the Courtesan had given herself away many times but had never truly experienced being fully loved by another. The love ends in tragedy with her premature death, and the writer´s pain and deppression. In my opinion the movie does not glorify physical love, nor even all that much sentimental love, but expresses a heart-cry ¨to learn to be fully loved, and to love in return.¨

I don´t want to come off as a fan of the movie, but, I think that like Paul in Athens, we can discover sayings of secular prophets and we can utilize secular poetry that points to a desire for something higher.

Perhaps I am thinking this way because I spend more time these days with secular unchurched people than I do with church people. Again, thanks for the caution and forgive me if I come off a little irreverant.

John: how are things going? send me an email when you get time with a little update.

Jeremiah said...

Good comments Jastclark & Jose! I don't really have anything to add there.


Our discussion has branched to two topics

1) comparable theological capability of the devil to a person.

2) general approach to dealing with the devil.

1) Comparable theological capability of the devil to a person.

I think we agree, but are just using different words. While the devil's knowledge OF GOD probably far exceeds ours, not having "The Fear of the LORD" he can no longer know GOD.

2) general approach to dealing with the devil.

Jesus' didn't talk about the devil much and I somewhat agree with you about your statement concerning how HE viewed him. However, there is a very good reason for this that I don't think we share with JESUS. John 14:30 says "I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me..." The term for "Hold" (as I remember anyway) is a wrestling term. As Jesus used the term HE indicates that, defensively, there is no opening the opponent can exploit. Proverbs says that a man without self-control is like a city with no walls. Jesus is indicating that the walls of HIS Life are impregnable and that it is only by HIS will that HIS LIFE is taken. We, alas, are not so impregnable.

II Cor. 2:11 says " order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes..." Making reference to forgiveness and reinstatement of a fallen brother.

The last time I referenced this verse it was at a gathering of Pastors (I'm still not sure why I was there) where that topic was exactly what was on the table, and one of the offended Pastors really didn't want to hear anything about forgiveness or reinstatement. It seems to me that one of two mistakes gets made, either people think there are demons under every bush and give the devil too much credit, or they completely ignore him (either by denying the supernatural, not wanting to give him attention, or simple underestimation).

I think it much better to treat him like a very smart military opponent.
Defensively, we should anticipate the traps & schemes, live as best as can to present " hold...", live in forgiveness etc. Offensively, we need to be carrying out our assignments as strategically as possible.

Small groups are best for nimbleness and effective strikes, but they need the support behind them of a large mass.

The Dunkirk/Normandy comparison is good, but we have to remember that after Normandy it wasn't just a "mop up" operation and the allies were very deliberate in their strategies and offensive. It also very nearly became a Custer moment at the Battle of the Bulge, with Patton being the main thing that prevented Allied collapse.

I'm the last person in the world who wants the devil to get any glory, but I've been burned too many times looking the other way to overlook his crap.

Brian Emmet said...

Jeremiah: you'll get no quarrel from me on this score! Let's also keep in mind that the three classic "enemies" in the Christian life are "the world, the flesh and the devil"--note who comes in third. Yes, all three are interconnected and inter-energized, and in Jesus' temptations, he faced them is something of this order: the flesh (take care of your needs--turn stones into bread); the world (make a big splash--draw attention to yourself); and the devil (worship me and I'll give you everything). Once agin, the devil comes in third, exploiting the opening made in our souls by the world and our flesh.

steve H said...


My wife had an afternoon off. We went to the theater for the first time in ages to see "Evan Almighty." It's worth seeing! And clean too.

John M. said...

Hey everyone. I've been reading along. Just haven't had a lot to say. Good discussion. Welcome jastclark. Good to have your thoughts.

Jeremiah said...


Well I agree on all that.

Jeremiah said...


Whenever you start trolling for new topics, I've got a few ideas.

The Nature of Words

The position of the Law in regards to building a society

Brian Emmet said...

Jeremiah--OK, let's give it a go. Email me your post and I'll put it up, and you can moderate the next round--thanks!

Jeremiah said...

In a Post Modern society, who should control the meaning of words and how should they do it?

josenmiami said...

Jeremiah, what makes you think that anyone can control the meaning of words in any society? thats a little like trying to control what people buy and sell and for what price in a free market economy.

Brian Emmet said...

New post ahead! Jeremiah moderating...